An NBA GM explains the keys to free agency and the biggest misconception about it


Los Angeles Clippers GM Michael Winger says there are three key components to NBA free agency: preparation, communication, and relationships.
The three components are all intertwined — communication and relationships allow teams to prepare for months for free agency to have a roadmap and a list of options and paths for the franchise.
Winger said that because of the amount of preparation teams do, free agency isn’t as hectic as many people would believe.

When the clock approaches 12:01 a.m. on July 1 each year, and free agency begins, NBA fans anxiously await the floodgates to open. It feels like the kickoff of an event, the start gun to a race going off.

But for NBA teams, behind the scenes, it’s not quite a sprint but a steady rollout of a process for which they have planned for months.

“For a lot of teams it’s not terribly thrilling,” Los Angeles Clippers GM Michael Winger told Business Insider.

“For process-driven front offices, all of the preparation at that point has mostly been done and, frankly, had been done for months.”

Winger said once the free agency “bell” rings, teams have a call list ready to go and they begin going through their options. It’s not as simple as rolling the ball out, and every team scrambles for players.

Winger, who was hired as the Clippers GM last summer after working as the assistant GM of the Oklahoma City Thunder for seven years, explained that the process boils down to three critical factors, preparation, communication, and relationships, and may have one big misconception.


“Very, very, very little of what we do is last-minute,” Winger said. “If anything that we do is last-minute, it’s because there were circumstances that popped up for which even the most thoughtful people probably could not have prepared.”

Part of the job of an NBA front office is to prepare for all situations. They’re aware of which players will be free agents, which players can become free agents (depending on things like contract options), what prospective free agents are looking for, and which teams are trying to make moves. They have Plans A, B, and C, and an idea of which directions to go, depending on how things shake out.

Winger explained that in the build-up to free agency, teams are scouting what the rest of the league is doing and keeping tabs on possible moves.

On June 27, for instance, the Clippers traded guard Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards for center Marcin Gortat. The move occurred when rumors were circulating that then-Clippers center DeAndre Jordan might seek a trade to the Dallas Mavericks. The Clippers would need another center.

Meanwhile, days earlier, the Clippers used the 12th and 13th picks in the draft to take two combo guards, players who would occupy the same general role as Rivers.

Though Jordan instead opted out of his contract to become a free agent and signed with the Mavericks outright, it’s not hard to see that the Clippers had a roadmap to balancing out their roster.

The preparation carries over when free agency …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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